My original title for this post was going to be: Copyright, Licence and Selling Consumable Materials, This post was predicated by a situation I found myself in at a local used book sale. Here I was, at a book sale about a month back, talking with a lady about selling consumable workbooks. I almost got in an argument with her about the legalities of selling a fully used consumable workbook, but decided that
1. it wasn’t worth it and
2. maybe I should check my facts to make sure that I am right.
Know what I discovered? MUDDY WATERS.
Oh my muddy waters indeed! The question remains: Can I Sell It?
In the USA:
First off: in the USA first sale doctrine comes into play as well as understanding what the license is when you are buying your product.
First sale doctrine means.. you bought it, it’s yours to dispose of however you want. This doesn’t mean you can copy a complete book, workbook, consumable material etc and then turn around and sell it. It does mean you can use it, sell it, give it away, have a bonfire with it. It’s yours use it as you want to. Mind the caveat though.
Here is the caveat: if it is sold as a consumable, use by one person only with a license! You can’t. Simple enough eh? You do need to check what the license is. If you don’t… you are risking breaking the law. So if the seller tells you the textbook can be shared but the workbook needs to be purchased one per student then you can’t resell that workbook once it’s been used. Therefore, be mindful of the licence.
In Canada on the other hand we don’t have a clearly defined first sale doctrine. Makes for muddier waters. In Canada it’s called the law of exhaustion. So once it’s sold, the original owner doesn’t have any rights to it any more. BUT license is considered under what was “INTENDED”. So if the intended purpose is for ONE person to use it (aka consumable book) then it can’t be resold as you are breaking the rule of what it was considered for. So if you have used part of a workbook you can’t resell it, but if you bought something and it hasn’t been used, then you can.
The waters are muddy in that most people don’t understand what it means to have a one time use license. It’s hard to know how to look for it, or even what it means. In Canada it means considering seriously what the creator meant in the use of the material they put together. If they made it as a consumable.. well.. then it’s a one time use. Seriously. Unless they said “sure make copies and share them with your group of friends” assume it’s one time use. It’s the safest, most legal thing you can do.
Regardless of where you live:
If in the opening pages of your book it states that you can make copies for up to six people within a homeschool/educational setting but after that you need to contact the author. CONTACT THE AUTHOR. Seriously, it’s not that big of a deal. AND IT’S LEGAL. Why would you want to flaunt the law?
Now seriously is anyone going to chase you down? No. The government has better things to do than chase down homeschool moms and dads. But if you give away or sell copies of something that you didn’t work hard to create, what does that do to the creator? If they can’t make money selling the products they have worked hard to create, do you think they are going to continue to do so? What kind of respect are you showing them for their hard work?
If you are a person of faith, what does disregarding the law, or disrespecting the person who MADE the materials that you are happily using say about your faith?
I know, it’s not an easy thing. And it’s may seem wasteful. But be mindful of laws and intended purposes. Do your due diligence, find out what type of licence is attached to the consumable that you using. ABIDE by it. Do what’s right, not what’s convenient eh?